Running Through The Pain: Good or Bad?

Do you experience moderate pain while running? Do you run through it?

Here’s why it is important to identify the difference between good pain (for instance, the feeling you get when foam rolling) and bad pain (like joint pain caused by improper muscle recruitment).  Also, how to create a plan of action in order to address bad pain.

We don’t advise “pushing” through pain. Take your body’s communication into account, and make the adjustments necessary to run safely, be vital, and to feel empowered!

Much of the pain felt while running is the result of not warming up; poor muscular skeletal alignment; and pinched nerves, as your nervous system attempts to warn you about potential microtraumas.

Microtraumas are injuries that can result from the overuse of muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones.  Symptoms include muscle strain, discomfort, tenderness, and joint pain. Often times there is swelling that is not visible. These injuries can include small tears in fibers and the connective tissue of the muscles as well as sprained ligaments, strained muscles, and overstretched tendons.

The key to being a runner is heading microtraumas off at the pass: before they start! In our Fall 2018 Running Series, we’ll teach you how to warm up and train properly, as well as identify when to stop and regroup!

Do I Have an Overuse Injury? Ask yourself these questions.

  • Do I experience pain immediately after or within 12 hours of exercising?
  • Do I experience pain, during or after exercise, that does not prevent movement, and eventually gets better?
  • Do I experience pain, during and after exercise, that does prevent movement, and eventually gets better?
  • Do I experience constant or chronic pain that prevents movement, and does not get better?

If you answered “yes” to the any of the above questions, you may be inviting overuse injuries.

What is a Shin Splint? Many of us have experienced shin splints while running; but are shin splints overuse injuries?

You Betcha! Shin splints are an overuse injury, or combination of injuries, that present as pain in the lower leg, below the knee. The pain occurs alongside the shin bone, on the front of the leg and, on the inner or outer part of the leg.

The origin of your shin splints may be happening due to: micro-tears in the muscle that’s pulled off the bone, an inflammation of fascia or other soft tissue, an inflammation of the muscle, or a combination of these.

These sorts of microtraumas can be the result of many reasons. Some of these causes include improper running stride or foot strike; improper stretching; improper footwear; from too much stress placed on one side of the body when running on tilted roads; or, always running in the same direction on a track. Often, the dominant leg is the one that is affected.

"Pushing Through" a Microtrauma!? FORGET IT!  Doing so can actually lead to more serious problems!

When microtraumas aren't given time to heal, they can lead to more serious injuries, such as stress fractures, and even cause ruptured tendons and ligaments.

Pain in any part of the body should be taken seriously, and not pushed through. This is especially true for the lower part of the leg, that is the immediate recipient of impact, as your foot strikes the ground.

Here are some ways to prevent and alleviate running pain!

  • See a sports medicine expert before beginning or when returning to a running program, especially if you have previously had an overuse injury.
  • Work with a running coach or personal trainer who can teach you proper form and technique.
  • Warm up before running.
  • Engage in active recovery and rest when you feel pain or are overly sore. For instance, foam rolling!
  • Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your runs.
  • Vary the intensity and duration of your running courses.
  • Cross Train!!! Vary your exercise routine and activities and learn how to warm up your core.
  • Schedule adequate recovery time! At least 2 rest days per week, is considered adequate, so that your muscles can rebuild.
  • Wear proper, and well-fitting running shoes.

If you think that you are suffering from shin splints, decrease your training or stop running completely and ice your shin(s) to reduce inflammation.  Although we recommend identifying the cause of your overuse injuries, rather than masking your symptoms, over-the-counter NSAID’s, such as advil, can help temporarily reduce swelling and pain.  Do not to make this a routine, as they are not safe to take for more than a few days at a time. Depending on the extent and duration of pain, it is important that you identify why your are suffering from microtraumas, rather than ignore and mask them.  If you don’t get to the cause of the matter, you may need to seek out a medical diagnosis.  Do not wait until you injure yourself: consider working with a personal trainer and getting a gate analysis, so that you can analyze how you are running and which muscles need tuning, so that you can enjoy your runs.

You should be stretching your calves and anterior tibialis as well. Try kneeling on a cushion, shins and tops of feet on the ground, legs and feet together and toes pointed straight back . Then slowly sit back onto your heels until you feel tension in the muscles of your shin. Keep Breathing! Hold for 15-30 seconds, relax and repeat.

Remember, above all things, rest is key! And if the pain is not going away, seek out help from a professional that you trust!

Happy Running!

Come in for a free fitness assessment!

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